If you are having trouble controlling the temperature in your RV, it could be the thermostat that is to blame. Of course, thermostats are electronic pieces of equipment, and they can get old, malfunction, or break.
Common signs of an RV thermostat not working include it being unresponsive, not having power, and not responding to temperature adjustments. In most cases, it’s due to the batteries being old and needing to be replaced in order to get the thermostat working again.
Other issues include the AC or heater switch not functioning, having the heater or AC run continuously without switching off, and the setting of the thermostat not matching the temperature in your RV. These issues require a bit more testing and troubleshooting, keep reading for our full guide on how to fix and reset your thermostat.
How Do I Know If My Thermostat Is Bad In My RV?
There are a few main problems that your RV’s thermostat may be experiencing, and we are here to address all of them right now.
Let’s take a look at the main problems and how to check for them.
1. An Unresponsive Thermostat
If it just doesn’t have any power and won’t turn on, then you can rest assured that you have a bad thermostat. If this is the case, it is most likely that the thermostat has lost its connection to the electrical circuit.
Moreover, the wiring may just be loose or disconnected. There is also the chance that there is just no change in temperature when you change the settings on the thermostat.
It may also be the case that the display of the thermostat does not turn on or that the display is extremely dim. It could also be the case that the display works perfectly fine, but the buttons don’t work. The buttons or the touch display not working could be another sign of wiring or electrical issues.
If your thermostat is unresponsive, but it’s not electrical, rather bad battery-powered, it may just be the case that the batteries aren’t good anymore.
If this is the case, just try changing the batteries, as you don’t need a professional for this. However, if you change the batteries and it still doesn’t work, then it may just be broken and require replacement.
2. The Heat or A/C Won’t Switch On
Another way to tell is if the display seems to work, but either the air conditioning or the heat just won’t switch on. If this is the case, your thermostat is bad, and it is likely the wiring that is to blame.
You’re going to need to remove the housing and inspect all of the wiring for damage. If you don’t see any damage, you are most likely going to require professional assistance to either repair or replace the unit.
3. The Heater or A/C Won’t Switch Off
Another example of a bad thermostat is if the heat or the air conditioning is on, and it just doesn’t turn off. Even if you press the power button, the air conditioning or heat may not turn off.
It could be the case that the wiring is damaged or frayed, thus causing the unit to not respond properly, it could be that the temperature sensor is broken, or it could mean that the thermostat itself is not calibrated correctly.
Once again, you’re going to have to check for the wiring harness and see if it is in good shape. If you don’t see any visible damage to the wiring, then you will need to hire a professional electrician or RV thermostat expert for repair or replacement.
4. Temperature In The RV Doesn’t Match The Setting On The Thermostat
The other way to tell if the RV thermostat is bad is if the thermostat appears to be working, but the temperature on the thermostat setting does not match the temperature inside of the RV.
Simply put, if you have your RV heat set to 70, and it heats to 80 degrees or higher, then you can rest assured that you have a bad thermostat.
How To Fix An RV Thermostat That’s Not Working
What we want to do right now is teach you exactly how to fix an RV thermostat that is not working. To address all of the possible issues that we have discussed above, we are going to go through a step-by-step RV thermostat troubleshooting tutorial.
If you follow the steps listed below, you should definitely be able to find out what is wrong with the thermostat, and you might even be able to fix it yourself.
With that being said, if you are unfamiliar with electrical systems, chances are pretty big that you will need to hire a professional electrician for assistance.
Step 1: Make Sure The Thermostat Is Set Correctly
Although this is indeed a very obvious step, it’s one that many people actually get wrong. The fact of the matter is that the first step here is to ensure that the thermostat is actually set to the right setting.
If you are looking to heat during the winter, make sure that it is set to heat, and if it is set too cool, it should be cooling. Moreover, if you have the AC running continuously, the setting could be on ON.
If this is the case, it will just run continuously without turning off. In this case, you want to switch the air conditioning or heating to the automatic mode, which automatically adjusts the temperature based on the setting and the ambient temperature in the RV.
If the system is set to the auto mode, the heater or air conditioning will only blow air when the system is either cooling or heating.
2. Reset The Thermostat
Sometimes your thermostat may not be working properly because something with the circuitry is not functioning properly, or because the software used to program it is experiencing some kind of malfunction.
If this is the case, you might want to try simply resetting the thermostat to see if it works once it turns back on. Refer to the following section on exactly how to reset the thermostat.
3. Turn The Thermostat Up or Down
If you notice that your thermostat is having issues, and it is wintertime, set the temperature of the heater to 5 degrees above the ambient outside temperature.
If you notice that your thermostat is having issues with cooling, set the air conditioning to 5 degrees lower than the outside air temperature.
When you do this, when you change the settings, you should hear a clicking sound, and a few minutes after, you should hear the air either sucking or blowing. If this troubleshooting step does not provide you with any results, move on to the following step.
4. Make Sure The Batteries Work
The majority of modern RV’s feature digital thermostats, and these usually come with batteries. If the issue is simply the batteries, replacing them should do the trick. You should notice your thermostat turn on.
Keep in mind that the batteries in an RV thermostat, a digital version, should be replaced yearly at the very least. However, if you replace the batteries, and still nothing happens, then it is likely the wiring that is at fault. If this is the case, move onto the following step.
5. Use Air To Clean The Thermostat
On a side note, if you have a mechanical thermostat, you’re going to see a variety of little levers that are used to change the temperature and adjust the settings. That said, these mechanical thermostats often have problems with dust and debris accumulating on and in them.
If dust gets inside of the levers, it can jam them and stop them from moving properly. If you think that this is the case, you want to use some compressed air to blast any debris out of any small cracks. If this still does not solve the issue, move onto the following step.
6. Test All Of The Wires And Connections
What you should do now, if all else has failed, is to check all of the wiring to see if it is damaged. You need to ensure that all of the wires are in good condition, that they aren’t frayed, and that everything is connected properly to the corresponding terminals.
If you do have electrical experience, you can inspect everything. You can try disconnecting all of the wires and then reconnecting them, particularly if you don’t see any kind of physical damage.
However, if this does not do the trick, or you just don’t have experience with electrical units, then you definitely want to hire a professional for help.
If your thermostat is set to the right setting, you have replaced the batteries, you have cleaned it out with air, and have tested the wiring, but it still doesn’t work, then you will likely need a professional to replace the unit for you. Sometimes these units just break down and will require replacement.
How Do I Reset My RV Thermostat?
If there are no wiring issues or damage to the thermostat, then one of the easiest ways to solve many problems is simply by resetting it.
With that being said, depending on the type and model of thermostat you have, resetting it might be different. There are a few different common methods of resetting your average RV thermostat, so let’s take a quick look at all of them.
- Some thermostats simply require you to install the battery backwards for about 5 seconds, and then reinstall it properly. This may be enough to reset most battery powered thermostats.
- If you have an electrical thermostat that is not battery powered, then resetting it will most likely be done by turning the power off to it for at least 30 seconds. So, either go switch off the breaker or remove the fuse. Wait for 30 to 60 seconds, and then reactivate the power.
- Many thermostats even come with dedicated reset buttons that are recessed. You will have to use something thin like a paper clip or a pen to press this reset button, usually for about 10 seconds.
How Do I Test My RV Thermostat?
Let’s go over a few different things that you can do to test your RV thermostat to see whether or not it is working, and maybe even to detect what the issue at hand is.
- The first thing that you should do is simply set the temperature. Here, you are looking to see if you hear a clicking noise. If you hear a clicking noise, it means that the unit itself is responsive.
- Of course, if the display on the thermostat does not work, or it doesn’t respond, then it is likely an issue with the powering, the wiring, or the display itself. Remember, the display itself can also break.
- Set the temperature to the desired level, which could be 70 degrees. If the temperature in your RV is at a moderate level, you’re going to want to set the temperature on the thermostat to a relatively extreme temperature. For instance, if you are looking to heat, set the thermostats to 85 degrees, and if you are looking to cool, set it to 65 degrees.
- Go to the vents and see if you can hear air flowing, or just put your hand in front of them to feel if there is air flowing.
- If there is absolutely no air flowing at all, then it is likely an issue with the wiring or the circuitry.
- You then also want to have another thermometer in the space. For instance, if you have the thermostat set to 75 degrees, then your thermometer should also read 75 degrees. If the temperature exceeds or doesn’t get close to what you have the thermostat set at, then it could be the wiring or even the temperature sensor that is to blame. Remember, in order to achieve the right temperature, a thermostat needs to be able to sense the ambient temperature. If this is the case, then it is likely the temperature sensor that is to blame.
Simply put, all you need to do here is to set your thermostat and then see if the ambient temperature in the RV matches what you have the thermostat set to. Of course, you’re going to need to wait for a couple of hours to test the temperature, because heating and cooling doesn’t happen immediately.
Will Any Thermostat Work In An RV?
Generally speaking, an RV is going to require an RV thermostat. There are a select few house or home thermostats that may work in RV’s, although most of them don’t. Most home thermostats are designed to work with a 24 Volt AC power source, but RV’s generally do not have any kind of power source like that.
Moreover, home thermostats are generally much larger and more complex than RVs require, as RVs have fairly simple heating and cooling systems.
Next, some RVs are designed to have an electrical thermostat wired into the breaker or fuse box system, whereas others don’t have any such wiring and will require a digital battery-powered thermostat.
Therefore, you do need to do some research in terms of what thermostats are compatible with your specific RV.
When Should An RV Thermostat Be Replaced/Upgraded?
There are two main deciding factors for whether or not you need to replace or upgrade the thermostat in your RV. First and foremost, if it just doesn’t work anymore, then you obviously need to replace or upgrade it. If the wiring is damaged to the point where it just can’t be fixed, then it will need to be replaced.
Moreover, there are also some forms of physical damage, such as to the display or the control unit itself, that may require repair, but if repairs are too expensive, it may be more economically feasible to just replace the whole unit. Simply put, if it is having issues that are not economically feasible to repair, then you’ll need to replace the unit.
What is also worth noting is that these RV thermostats usually have a lifespan of somewhere between 10 and 15 years. Therefore, if your thermostat is over 10 years old and it’s not working properly, then it will need to be replaced, as there’s really no point in repairing it.
On that note, if you buy a pre-owned RV, you may need to replace that thermostat fairly soon anyway.
How To Replace Your RV Thermostat
If you don’t know what you are doing, you may want to hire a professional to replace your RV thermostat. That being said, this is actually quite an easy process.
Below, we’re going to provide you with a step-by-step tutorial on exactly how to replace your RV thermostat. That said, one important thing to know is that you do need to replace the old thermostat with a new one of the same type.
For instance, if the old one was digital, then the new one should also be digital. The point here is that we are going to avoid any extensive rewiring jobs.
For instance, if you had a mechanical thermostat, but want to install a digital one, you’re going to need to do some rewiring, and this is honestly something that is best left to professional electricians.
- Of course, the first thing that you need to do is to disconnect the power. You should turn off the fuse or the breaker that leads to the thermostat. Never work on an electrical device if it is still connected to power.
- You should see a little notch on the panel, the side of it, where you can fit a Flathead screwdriver under.
- Use your screwdriver to pop the casing off of the thermostat. Some may have a little tab that you can push to just pull the casing off, in which case you won’t need your screwdriver.
- You are now going to use your screwdriver to remove all of the screws that are holding the thermostat to the wall.
- Make sure to disconnect the wires one at a time, and to label them, so you know how to reconnect them. You also want to hold them in place, so they don’t slide back into the wall, because that’s going to create a whole different set of problems.
- Once all of the screws and wires have been removed, the thermostat should just pop off of the wall.
- The hard part here is going to be connecting the wires on your new thermostat to the existing wires. We do recommend going for a new thermostat that has the same wiring setup as your old one had, or else things can get confusing.
- With the ends of the wires exposed, twist the corresponding wires from the new thermostat into the existing wires of your RV. You may need to do some additional research to figure out exactly which wires need to be attached in which ways.
- With the wires connected, screw the thermostat back into the wall, and then reattach the cover.
- You can now turn the power to the thermostat back on, and then turn the breaker back on, and test to see if it works.
There you have it, you should now know everything there is to know about why the thermostat in your RV is not working, how to troubleshoot problems, reset it, and how to replace it.